ASSALAAMU ALAIKUM WA RAHMATULLAH Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
Diana Fruit Co., Inc. came into existence on July 18, 1990, making Maraschino Cherries a delicious addition to candies, desserts and cocktails. Its roots as a producer of Maraschino Cherries date back over 85 years. Now IFANCA halal-certified, Diana Fruit Company's Maraschino Cherries come with stems, without stems and/or halves. Products are made from mature, well-formed, clean and sound, US No. 1 sweet cherries (Prunus avium). Processing includes some or all these steps: inspecting, cleaning, sorting by size, bleaching, pitting, slicing, coloring, sweetening and flavoring. Finished products are packed in flavored (filtered) syrup in wide mouth jars. IFANCA ensures that every stage in the process meets strict halal standards.
Cherry Pecan Drops (Adapted from a Diana Fruit Company Recipe)
1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup (vegetable) shortening
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2-¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chopped dates
1/3 cup chopped Diana Fruit maraschino cherries, well drained
1-½ cup coarsely crushed cornflakes cereal
15 Diana Fruit maraschino cherries, quartered, drained
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookies sheets. In large bowl, combine sugar, shortening, milk, vanilla, and eggs; beat well.
Stir in flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pecans, dates, and 1/3 cup chopped cherries; mix well. Cover dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for easier handling.
Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls into cereal; thoroughly coat. Form into balls; place 2-inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Press maraschino cherry piece into top of each ball. Bake for 10-15 minutes until light golden brown.
Wandering down Devon Avenue in Chicago, we often see the word 'Zabiha' advertised at various grocery stores. For Muslims it is wonderful to be assured our food is Zabiha, but have we thought of taking it a step closer to something even better? Have we seen or asked for 'organic, zabiha products'? Now that's food for thought!
According to Organic Trade Association (OTA), the fastest growing sectors in the $600 billion dollar (U.S.) food industry are organic food and beverages. According to the Organic Trade Association's 2007 Manufacturer Survey, consumer sales for organic grew 27% in 2006. The growth of the organic sector is phenomenal but in civilizations of yore, organic was the only option. Could the chronic diseases we have these days, and our susceptibility to them, be related to the food we consume today?
So what does organic mean?
According to the Organic Trade Association, organic refers to the way farm products are produced and processed. This can range from but is not limited to milk, eggs, produce, and meat to highly processed food products. Organic farming involves abstaining from pesticides, synthetic hormones, antibiotics and chemical fertilizers that adversely affect the natural environment. Organic foods are not genetically engineered either.
Why Join the Organic Movement?
Reduce the Toxic Load on the Environment - According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 99.5% of farm acres are at risk of exposure to agricultural chemicals. According to Science magazine, August 2002, dead zones in the ocean can be traced to synthetic fertilizers. There is run off of nitrogen and phosphorus, both found in fertilizers and animal feed, into watersheds leading to the ocean. This promotes the overgrowth of algae and consequently the depletion of oxygen and all oxygen-dependent creatures in the zone. The Gulf of Mexico dead zone covers 8,000 square miles - an area larger than New Jersey - potentially jeopardizing that region's entire commercial fishery. Organic farming promotes a less toxic environment.
Protect Future Generations - Medical News Today reports that pesticides found in conventional farming show a link between cancer, decreased male fertility, Parkinson's disease, fetal abnormalities, and chronic fatigue syndrome in children. Other studies show that infants are exposed to detrimental substances in-utero, and link non-organic food to coronary heart disease, allergies and hypersensitivity in children.
Build Healthy Soil for Healthy Bodies - According to David Pimentel, professor of ecology and agriculture at Cornell University, it costs the U.S. $40 billion annually to replace the damage done by the erosion of topsoil due to chemical fertilizers. Without topsoil, plant life is not possible. Further, conventional methods of farming result in the loss of vitamins and minerals in vegetables and fruits. Using organic matter instead of synthetic fertilizers or ammonia increases nutrients, micro-nutrients and minerals in produce. Organic Center State of Science Review in their study, "Elevating Antioxidant Levels in Food Through Organic Farming and Food Processing", link antioxidants in our diet to disease prevention and better health.
Treat Your Taste Buds Well - Researchers at Washington State University found that organic berries were judged as sweeter than their non-organic counterparts, in lab taste trials. If you are going to eat those berries, why not eat something that is tastier?
Promote Biodiversity - Organic products support biological conservation. Native plants, birds, insects and other animals thrive in organic havens.
Following in the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) - The purpose of mankind is to worship and please God Almighty. Among the many things needed, a healthy body is a must to fulfill this. Good health is not possible without proper food and drink. In the Noble Quran it says,
0, ye who believe! Make not unlawful, the good things that GOD hath made lawful for you. But commit no excess for GOD loveth not those given to excess. Eat of the things, which GOD hath provided for you, lawful and good (Halal and Tayyab); but fear GOD in whom ye believe. Al-Ma-ida: 87-88
Tayyab means pure and refers to pure and wholesome foods. Pure foods are those that are in their natural states, without the excessive use of pesticides and other synthetic compounds.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is an example for mankind - the way he worshiped, the way he talked, his manners, and the way he ate. Among his many actions/advice about food, organic food is a way to follow in his footsteps. So next time we sit down for dinner, let's consider what our Prophet (peace be upon him) would encourage us to eat. Let's ponder on where our food comes from. Let's pay attention to how we take care of our bodies and see if we care for it the way GOD meant for us to do.
How Do We Know If Foods Are Organic?
Begin by reading food labels and looking in the organic section of your grocery store. All organic foods must meet strict government standards through the organic certification program established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). If a food has a USDA Organic label, it means that at least 95% of the food's ingredients are organically produced. This seal on the label is voluntary, but many organic producers use it. Fruits, vegetables, eggs or single-ingredient foods are categorized as 100% organic and have a small USDA organic seal on them.
Terms to Know:
100% Organic - products are completely organic or made with all organic ingredients without using chemical fertilizers.
Organic - at least 95% of the product is organic.
Made with Organic Ingredients - The product contains at least 70% of organic ingredients. While the USDA Organic seal cannot be used on this, the word organic can be used in the ingredient list.
"All-Natural", "Free-Range", or "Hormone-Free" - These labels should not be confused with the term "organic". Neither should one assume that all produce at a Farmer's Market or all produce that is locally grown is organic.
Where To Shop Organic?
Most groceries today have a section for organic foods. Alternatively, get connected with local farmers who produce organic foods via www.localharvest.org.
Is Buying Organic Food More Expensive?
You may notice that some organic products typically cost 10% to 40% more than similar conventionally produced products. Other organic foods such as coffee, cereal and bread may cost the same or less than the conventional corresponding item. It comes down to economics and personal commitment. As the demand increases and more products become available, the price differentiation will certainly become narrower. Organic foods take longer to ripen because chemicals are not used in their production. Free from preservatives, they also have a shorter shelf life. Those factors, plus a relatively smaller demand, do lead to higher prices.
Keep the following in mind, if you find that organic costs more than conventional products:
Conventional farmers receive federal subsidies while organic farmers don't.
Environmental cleanups needed after conventional methods of manufacture are not reflected in product cost as they are paid via tax dollars.
Organic farming is more labor and management intensive as it does not resort to the conventional use of pesticides or herbicides.
Farming Food & Health: David Atkinson Asks Whether Organic Food is Better For Us Than Conventionally Farmed Food. Chemistry and Industry, June 7, 2004 by David Atkinson
Top 10 Reasons to Support Organic in the 21st Century www.organic.org Source: Alan Greene, MD (Organic Trade Association), Bob Scowcroft (Organic Farming Research Foundation), Sylvia Tawse (Fresh Ideas Group)
www.ota.com/index.html Source: Environmental Health Perspectives, March 2003 and Source: Environmental Health Perspectives, April 2008.
Organically Grown Food More Healthier. BioMedicine. 7/20/2007 http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news/Organically-Grown-Food-More-Healthier-23739-2
The use of the term 'seafood' in this article refers to all non-plant life coming from permanent bodies of water, including rivers, lakes, seas and oceans. There are a number of differing opinions when it comes to the halal or haram status of seafood. The Quran states:
Lawful to you is the pursuit of water-game and its use for food, for the benefit of yourselves and those who travel; but forbidden is the pursuit of land-game, as long as you are in the state of Ihram (for Hajj or Umrah). And fear ALLAH, to Whom you shall be gathered back. Al-Ma-ida: 96
And it is HE Who has subjected the sea (to you), that you may eat thereof fresh tender meat, and that you may extract out of it ornaments to wear. And you see the ships ploughing through it, that you may seek (thus) of the HIS bounty (by transporting the goods from place to place) and that you may be grateful. An-Nahl: 14
And the two seas (kinds of water) are not alike: this is fresh, sweet and pleasant to drink, and that is salt and bitter. And from them both you eat fresh tender meat, and extract ornaments that you wear. And you see the ships cleaving (the sea water as they sail through it), that you may seek of HIS bounty, and that you may give thanks. Fatir: 12
This ayat state that it is lawful to fish for food. In fact ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, has subjected the seas to human beings, so they may partake of their Bounty and benefit by what has been provided. In addition, there are a number of Ahadith that also address the subject of seafood.
In a long Hadith, a group of Sahaba ran out of food on a journey and came upon a huge sea creature, often referred to as a fish or a huge fish and sometimes referred to as a whale, washed up on the shore. The Sahaba referred to it as ‘Anbar. They debated whether it was permissible to eat from it because it was already dead, but finally decided their need for food exempted them should there be any sin in it. After returning home and informing the Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, they were told it was a blessing provided to them by ALLAH. It was halal. In another Hadith we learn that frogs should not be killed and fish can be eaten. A different narration says that frogs are haram.
The Islamic scholars have studied the question of what seafood can be eaten and they have reached a number of different opinions. First, there are some who believe only live catches are halal. If the object is found dead, it comes under the ayah prohibiting the consumption of dead land animals and it too is haram. Others see that seafood is exempted from this restriction and use the Hadith about the ‘Anbar to justify their opinion.
As to the species of sea creature that is permitted, all have agreed that fish, with scales, are halal. Some have opined that anything, which can only live in water, is halal while creatures that can live in and out of the water are haram. The latter would include crabs, turtles, frogs, etc. Another opinion is that only fish with scales are halal and other creatures are not. This group believes that lobster, shrimp, octopus, eels, etc. are not permitted. Another group believes that creatures resembling halal land animals are halal while those resembling haram land animals are haram.
Finally, on the issue of being caught live or found dead, one opinion is that all seafood is halal while another opines that if the halal species is found dead in the water or on land, it is haram. A Hadith supports each opinion.
In summary, all scholars are in agreement that fish with scales are halal. Most also agree that all fish are halal. While some opinions say everything that can only live in the water is halal, others conclude that only those sea creatures resembling halal land creatures are halal. Most agree that frogs are not permitted. All agree that live fish are halal no matter how long after they are caught. Some conclude any fish is halal, whether it is caught live or found dead. Others believe fish found dead are haram.
Of course, all this applies to the seafood itself. As far as cooked or processed seafood, any added ingredients, flavors or cooking methods that introduce haram ingredients would make the seafood haram.
The 11th International Halal Food Conference organized by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America will be held in Chicago on April 20-21, 2009. For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.